Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Andy Wood's blog after last years event

Jodrell Bank Sportive 2010

Well I've done it, I've completed my first sportive of the season. The Torelli Jodrell Bank Sportive kicked off the season this morning at a chilly, overcast 8am from Woodford near Stockport. There were options of 30, 50 and 80 miles. I chose 50.

Signing on was a doddle, I simply had to give my name in at the desk and in return I received a goody bag (water bottle and 3 gels) together with a timing chip.

Once prepared I joined the queue at 8am for the start. It never ceases to amaze me just how egotistical these events can be. I was stood next to a group of guys talking the talk, the funny thing being that this guy had a brand new BMC carbon frame, DuraAce groupset and Zipp wheels, probably 5-7k worth of kit, and he was doing the 30 mile. What is the point?!

Anyway our timing chips were swiped and away we went. The first 15 miles sped by, the route taking us from Woodford, through Alderley Edge to Mobberley, through to Peover, Lach Dennis and then to Goostrey for the first feed stop. I arrived at Goostrey in 56 minutes.

At the feed stop we had our timing chips swiped, picked up free bananas, gels, energy drink and water. A minute later we were off again, winding through Goostrey before a couple of loops around Withington (Jodrell Bank) before heading onto Siddington, Broken Cross on the outskirts of Macclesfield into Prestbury, Bollington, on to Pott Shrigley, Poynton and then home again.

Up to Siddington was easy. I was rolling along in good rhythm. It was when I hit Siddington that things started to get messy. It got lumpy and the open fields surrounding the route caused a heavy headwind which made long drags of road last forever.

One of the big problems with today, compared to the sportives I took part in last year, was that nobody was prepared to work in a bunch. I don't know if it was because of early season and people were having issues with fitness but nobody even wanted to work as a pair! The wind was pretty bad, side on and head on, working as a bunch would have been perfect but it seemed to be everyone for themselves.

In fairness during the first 5 miles there was an attempt, however people just hid in the wheels and I spent half an hour on the front with no attempt of anyone coming through to take a turn. Luckily I eventually broke off.

So with this, wondering through the open Cheshire plains in the wind was hard going. Then came the hills. After a good 40 miles in the legs it came as a surprise to come across some steep ascents. I've been practising, reading and watching a lot into climbing technique and I found that my climbing has improved.

I found a lot of UK magazines really push that you must sit down and spin on the climbs, which I've really struggled with. However I found that European and American authors tend to promote an out of saddle approach. I've found that I suit an out of saddle climbing style, probably due to the fact that I can stamp my weight on the pedals.

I've also learnt not to panic and to keep my own steady rhythm, because of this I found I wasn't being too eager to grab lower gears. I also found that I wasn't huffing and puffing up the hills as in the past. I feel with my out of saddle style I have more control over my rhythm and thus found my heart wasn't pounding out of my chest.

Although saying all this, the hills were a shock to the system and in the last couple of miles I struggled, barely rolling along, my thighs were on fire, my lungs were hurting, my head light, my eyes tired. I was worn out, totally out of energy despite 6 bottles of drink, a packet of energy shots and several gels before even considering my pre-sportive build up of pasta and porridge.

The Result

This is where the surprising part comes in. Out of 207 riders doing the 50, my split time to Goostrey was in the top 20. My overall time positioned me 63rd. This proves again that if I can loose weight and improve on my climbing I can really start getting competative. I also found once again that although I was dropped on the climbs, I re-gained advantage on the decent and flat.

It is a shame the Jodrell Bank is on so early in the season as it is quite rare to have a timing chip. I started the sportive not considering time, more concerned about getting miles into the legs however I was humbled to have a time of 3 hours 20 minutes. I was expecting much worse however lets not forget I was churning out 100Ks quicker than that towards the end of last season.

My time put me 63rd out of 207 riders. 45 minutes off the first place man, however heart warmingly my time fitted in within a couple of minutes of a big bunch of riders so I'm pretty much on average pace. I thought an average speed of 15 mph was really good for me considering the hills too. Overall I'm delighted!!

I really enjoyed the Jodrell Bank Sportive, it was well organised and extremely well signposted (the signs had even been put out a week in advance!). I would have enjoyed it more had I been fit, perhaps they may have a re-run in August?

Anyway, I would definitely put the Jodrell Bank down in your diaries as a season opener in 2011. Next up: the Cheshire Cat on the 28th March!

Friday, 24 December 2010


March 12th



Land of Smiles A Charity supporting the Baan Tham Nam Jai Orphanage in Thailand looking after children who lost their families in the Tsunami five years ago. On a visit to the UK last year they perfomed traditional Thai dances, their way of saying thank you.


In action in the International ROG Tour of Holland

Stage 1 Prologue Stramproy Holland

Stage 2 Town Centre Criterium Weert Holland

80km town centre circuit race

Steve Golla Team Torelli in the Green Points leaders jersey and 2nd on General Classifictaion. Team Torelli send riders off the front on the bunch taking bonus seconds away from the other teams then work hard to keep the race togther to defend the 2nd place on GC and 4th place in the team competition.

STAGE 3 Weert Holland

ROG TOUR STAGE 3 120km Road Race
Overall Result

3rd Steve Golla
35th Ryan Bonser
45th Mark Hammersley
55th Mike Clarke
60th Sam Pedder
63rd Chris Ellis

Team Classification
4th Team Torelli

Cyclosport`s Howard Johnson report on last years event

Words and photos by Howard Johnson
Nestled in the leafy lanes of Cheshire is the Jodrell Bank radio telescope, a 76metre white dish pointing out into the cosmos. It’s used for tracking space probes and searching deep into outer space for cosmic research, it can now be linked to the Jodrell Bank Sportive, the season’s early leg warmer for events on a worldlier horizon, writes Howard Johnson.
Jodrell Bank Radio
The imposing Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope
The weather for the event was a whole lot better than it has been recently. It was 9C, but it did feel a bit more like 4C with the NW winds at 20mph. The wind speeds were exaggerated further once up on the more exposed parts of the route. The relatively good weather also attracted out 80 riders that signed up on the day, boosting the rider count to 680; many of them having their first attempt at a sportive.
The event was devised with options for three distances, 30, 50 and 80 miles, it is the ideal season opener to get the winter legs spinning in preparation, or should that be trepidation, for the season to come. The 30 mile option was included so younger riders could ride along with parents which is a great way to introduce youngsters to the sport; well done organisers.
Starting from Woodford, the route allowed riders to ease themselves into the ride, without anything too challenging too early, and with the first feed stop at 16 miles, and well stocked with the usual fare of cakes, bananas, copious box loads of energy gels and energy drink on supply, you could not fail to be topped up with sustenance.
Jodrell Bank Feed
Food, food, food; the first feed station.
The meandering anti-clockwise course soon switched from being undulating to being rather lumpy, with some sneaky hills to test early season fitness and stamina. The first real short sharp climb after 20 miles was an 8% drag near Blackden Heath, quickly followed by a 9% short sharp haul near the Jodrell Bank Telescope. Now nicely warmed up, the undulations became slightly steeper, longer and more frequent; with a lovely 10% climb at Bollington, a quick drop and then at 39 miles a 12% test of lung capacity and the use of my secret weapon on the triple chainring. All safely completed, and the legs rolling along very nicely indeed, and the miles counting down to a respectful finish. With two miles to go there was a sneaky little 9% to 10% reminder that you were not quite finished before rolling back to the finish line. My time for the 50 miles was 3 hours 42 minutes, and it could have been quicker however I was taking photos along the route; it is my goal to complete, not compete.
From my start time I can say the signage was good, with confirmation signs after a turn to reassure you that you were on the right road. But as usual on these events, there are still some ‘citizens’ that think they can remove or change the directions for fun. The organisers did remedy this as soon as they became aware of the problems.
After the event, and after a very fine portion of Thai chicken curry, it was time to chat with other riders. I caught up with Mr Robert O’Brien (pictured: right) who completed the thirty miles in 3 hours 31 minutes with his mum Claire (also pictured: right). This was Robert’s 3rd ride on his brand new bike and was not without mishap; he crashed. Thankfully nothing serious as he forgot to brake. His mum did defend him by saying it was a tricky corner with little room. Robert is a track rider, therefore not used to brakes, and can be found at the Manchester Velodrome with Eastlands Velo; Claire is a member of Weaver Valley CC and will be back out in the lanes in 2 weeks time for the Cheshire Cat. They were both complimentary about the signage, and had no problems getting around the course, although Robert did think it was too hilly, compared to the Velodrome at Manchester Robert, you are correct.
Enjoying a well earned rest were Darren French and his son Harry (pictured: left), aged 11. Harry is no newcomer to cycling and has been riding since he was six years old, and completed the 50 mile route in 3hours 53 minutes, and he wasn’t alone as his elder brother Connor  (aged 13) also completed the ride and the brothers both recorded faster times than dad Darren by 2 minutes.  Harry said the ride was hard, and I have to agree with you sir, it was a little windy out there, but you have to give great respect to all of the youngsters that turned up and rode the event. Chapeau!
Finally but certainly not least, there was Dave Lindsay (pictured: right) from Liverpool Century Road Club. Dave is relatively new to the sport and tackled the 80 mile route, however he “underestimated the hills” and the wind certainly made it a lot harder. Another rider using this event as a warm up for The Cheshire Cat; Dave should be on for a good time there as he clocked a very respectable 4hours 29minutes for the ride. He is hoping to ride the Polka Dot Challenge later this year if he can get an entry.
There was another interesting rider, who shall remain nameless to spare his blushes. The organisers were just waiting around for the last rider to come or to make sure he was accounted for. He stormed  into the HQ out of breath explaining that he has done the 30 mile extra loop for the riders opting for the 80 mile, twice. He had actually ridden 110 miles hence his late arrival.
Target times - 30 miles: Mark Coates in 1 hour 36 minutes
Target times - 50 miles: Peter Gettings in 2 hours 37 minutes
Target times - 80 miles: James Davies in 4 hours exactly
What we liked: Sensible course and good signage
What we didn’t like: A free cup of tea/coffee at the finish would have helped
Where's Howie? See his GPS route of the event: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/26990244
Did you ride the Jodrell Bank sportive? Give us your ratings and see the results – click here >

Ed Cooper
First ever/sportive or similar. Drove up from Derbyshire, a bit nervous, unsure what to expect. Have to say, excellent organisation & well signed. Chuffed to bits with time for the 80 mile route. Definately not my last event.
Dave Lee
Nice blog Howie, great to include the youngsters !! On the subject of the younger riders its possibly the most I have seen, taking part, great for the future ;-) Really enjoyed the ride, great signage and a shock at the end with a few unexpected hills thrown in :-)
Mark Smith
My first ever sportive and I really enjoyed it. I did the 30m and thought my 2hr:15 was disappointing, as I aimed to do it within 2hrs, but after looking at the results I think I did ok. I will put it on the calender for next year. The event was well organised and the signage, roads, countryside and the houses in Prestbury were all impressive. The only niggle is that I am sure my £15 could have covered a cup of tea at the end of the race.
Andy Holme
I agree it was a great ride through some really interesting countryside and the perfect way to open the season. I'm sure it said somewhere that it the route was flat!.The organisation and signage was very good. Definitely in the diary for next year On the minus side (and it's nothing to do with the event) It's just a pity we had riders riding on the pavement to pass other riders and to negotiate red traffic lights. It just puts us in a bad light with others.
Chris Leary
Enjoyed it, thought the 50 mile route was very good. Take peoples' point about the toliets at the start and food/drink at the finish but all the way round I really enjoyed myself, even all the cramp that set in on the final climbs didn't reduce the fun!
John Sutton
I thought it was ideal a season opener, no need to put in leg cracking climbs on every sportive. I agree pretty much with your comments: my blog post on it is here: http://irontwit.creativeblogs.net/2010/03/14/the-jodrell-bank-cyclosportive/

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Blog from Irontwit on last years Jodrell Bank Cyclosportive

Courtesy of Irontwit


The Cheshire Plain - a great place for fast riding
The cord snapped. Cycling is a cruel sport. Watching a group of cyclists moving in harmony rotating turns on the front can be mesmerising. It all seems so fast, so smooth, so effortless. Pity then than you couldn’t read my heartrate monitor trace which was rapidly heading upwards to a point where there was only going to be one outcome. That point came one hour and thirtyeight minutes into the Jodrell Bank cyclosportive. Until then I had been working hard with a couple of other riders on Treks. They were strong; their winters had obviously been better than mine.
My last minute decision to ride the 50 mile version of the Jodrell Bank came about due to a change in plan for Mother’s Day. If I could get around quickly then it wouldn’t upset the day at all, and since the start was only 5km from my front door and the weather forecast was good, there was no excuse. I started hard from the off and quickly fell in with a rider on a BMC who was pedalling as if the hounds of hell were after him. I hung on grimly for about 10km until he headed straight on for the 80 mile variant and I swung left for the shorter version – if he kept that pace going then he would set an amazingly quick time! I could see a single rider a few hundred metres ahead and I worked really hard into a headwind to bridge the gap – it took me another 10km or so of redlining the heartrate to finally latch on to his rear wheel. A brief respite, then it was turn and turnabout at a good pace until the first feed stop at Goostrey. Here we picked up a third rider and my problems started to magnify. He was even stronger than my partner, and every time he took his turn on the front the pace quickened. My turns became shorter as my legs started to suffer. I was working too hard to eat and as we hit a gentle incline towards Macclesfield the inevitable occurred.
The efficiency of a group of cyclists isn’t immediately apparent until you feel it at close hand. That gap between you and the back wheel of the guy in front goes out to a metre. A moment’s lapse and it’s 5 metres. Your heart is hammering and you need a breather, suddenly it’s 50. The guys in front become aware that you’re not there. There’s a cursory glance back, an unspoken, “Are we going to wait?” “Nah, fuck it, let’s ride.” and that 50 metres grows to 200, 300 then they’re out of sight. Cycling, as I say, is a cruel sport.
The enforced breather at least allowed me to neck a couple of gels, grab a drink and look at my watch. I was almost back onto my standard 40k loop (in reverse) and from then I would know every incline, every cobble, every pothole and could dose my effort efficiently.
The Jodrell Bank Sportive is a new event on the calendar and they have sensibly opted for a season opener feel to the route. It’s largely a flat runout through the Cheshire lanes with a few hills thrown in at the end to catch the unwary, none of which are too daunting, though. The weather was kind: it was cold and dry with a stiffish breeze which seemed to remain a headwind throughout (odd how that happens so often) to provide a decent first event for the season and a good preparation for the Cheshire Cat coming up in a couple of weekends time. The signposting was excellent, except at the split where it wasn’t clear which route went where unless you had memorised it beforehand or stopped to check your route card. The feeds seemed to be well stocked and the organisers made it clear that there would be food to purchase at the end. Sportident timing chips gave an accurate readout and printed ticket at the end, but at £25 I thought it was a tad expensive for a relatively short ride without free food at the finish. It is, nevertheless, a welcome addition to the northwest calendar.
I recovered fairly quickly from being dropped and was soon covering the familiar ground back to Woodford Memorial Hall. No riders caught me up and I started to pass a few of the early riders on the 30 mile route. I rolled in to the finish in 2:43:25, 3rd rider to finish the 50 mile circuit. I saw one of the two Treks and asked him what his time was – he finished in 2:37, gapping me by 6 minutes in the last hour. The efficiency of a group of cyclists isn’t immediately apparent.
I am, however, delighted by my time. I have rarely ridden a 50 so quickly, especially so early in the season and it has given me renewed hope for the forthcoming season.